Nightcharm’s Queer Blog of the Year Award â€˜07By Nightcharm / Saturday, January 5th, 2008
It seems like we scan a thousand blogs each week. Queer blogs especially. It’s an occupational hazard. We understand that. But does the process need to be so painful?
Not everyone, god love ‘em, has the creative wherewithal to pull something together that warrants regular eyeballing — be that journalistically or graphically. Given that folks don’t really read anymore, the importance of an original visual theme for a blog is doubly important. That was our criteria this year for choosing Nightcharm’s second annual Queer Blog of the Year Award.
And the winner for 2007 is:
Wayneâ€™s Nude Musicians.
Naked boys fondling their finely-tuned instruments.
Depending on the context, that’s a giddy single entendre or a cheeky double one.
In the case of Wayne Berry (below right), it just happens to be both.
As webmaster of Wayne’s Nude Musicians, he prides himself on being an epicure of what in retrospect is now called “prop porn” — physique nudes in which nubile young Adonises pose seductively with various musical instruments. (Like this demure cutey on the left.)
“While I’m sure your mother and mine would certainly disagree with me on the artistic merits of porn, I think present-day theory would mostly agree on pornography’s status as art,” Wayne explains. “Certainly a lot of it is bad art, but art nonetheless.”
Call them dirty pictures or a lost art form. By any name Wayne has assumed the mantle of curator in his own Museum of Erotic Artifacts, collecting a menagerie of delights for our eyes to behold. And grateful we are. Nightcharm’s David K. describes Wayne’s collection as one of his Top Ten Blogs That He Must Visit Every Morning With Coffee kinds of experiences. And the charm of Wayne’s extensive, archived collection is undeniable.
If there’s a visual medium that was designed to be disposable, it’s the Nudie in its many forms.
Porn as Ephemera is finite, it’s stuck-together pages too often fated for the trash can when something newer and edgier arrives on the scene.
How many one sheets for The Back Row, Cruisin’ The Castro, or El Paso Wrecking Co. were thrown to the four winds by adults-only theaters that themselves were destined to go the way of the dodo, no one realizing that they would one day be regarded as vital social documents of gay culture?
Who knew copies of Stroke and Skinflicks would today be collector’s items?
Preservation of such curios that are often tagged as socially worthless by the mainstream is Wayne’s goal.
“Frankly, it is exactly this controversy surrounding pornography that makes this particular art especially vulnerable,” he says.
A chance encounter with a basement cornucopia of porn set him on his path. More than just mere “stroke fodder” for him, these are glimpses into history that combine two of his favorite things: music and nudity. The man’s no prude, though. If someone should just happen to get turned on by the sight of a supple young thing draped over a jukebox or a grand piano, he really won’t mind.
“In general, I don’t much enjoy much contemporary porn. I am more attracted to ‘nostalgic’ imagery.”
Certainly the men featured in these photos fit Wayne’s bill. They’re an eclectic mix of barely-legal-looking naifs, Hollywood hopefuls, Muscle Beach regulars, fresh-faces you could find in any 50s- or 60s era high school yearbook, and Juilliard students you pass in the subway.
They possess what so many of their modern-day counterparts baring all in the ocean of big business porn readily forgo: a cute, playful approachability.
“My favorite pornographers are William Higgins, Champion Studios, InTouch For Men, the Dark Bros., and Penthouse Variations. These films, which I understand are completely ‘false’, feel completely sincere.”
No elaborate tattoos, g-string tanlines, overdone piercings, copious hair product, or waxed bikini lines here. What’s evoked is an unpretentious, natural charm; this is the genuine allure of youth, tangible and real.
“I think real porn connoisseurs are always looking for a sense of ‘authenticity’,” Wayne explains. “Kinda like people who love the blues.”
The props — from banjos and mandolins to cellos and headsets — are more than mere distractions. They’re themselves vestiges of a time when male nudity straddled the line between porn and art, a simple foregrounded guitar transforming an obscene male form into an aesthetic marvel.
It’s ultimately fitting that music and art should coexist in physique photography, almost as if they both anticipated what would become ubiquitous years down the line.
Sex and music have always courted one another’s favor, but today the border between them is blurrier than ever. Consider Wayne’s philosophical approach to the two: “Music is one more extension of the human body in action. The body is a musical instrument, so our musical instruments become as our bodies.”
At times it’s hard to distinguish Porn Star from Pop Star; the former always seem to want singing careers and the latter can’t seem to stay out of self-produced sex tapes or smutty scandals. Every blond pop thrush needs an FHM pictorial to reveal “like, my substance”.
Mic stands are confused with stripper poles and Prince’s Super Bowl act drove home the phallic connection of having a guitar strategically placed in the bull’s eye of an undulating groin.
Wayne continues: “When a man plays guitar ‘he wields an axe’. And guitar, drum, horn, and sax — male musicians looking backstage for someone who can play a mean ‘skin flute’. Music is sex as life is love. Music is sex.”
The mainstream music business actually trades in sex. The music itself is the prop that cloaks all the pelvic grinding and tarty gyrating under a veil of artistry.
The beat may have gotten racier, but the song remains the same. And Wayne’s on hand to catalog every scintillating note.
Visit last year’s Queer Blog of 2006 winner: Jockohomo.
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